Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Dwarves – Now with zombies!

The Dwarves, by Markus Heitz, has everything you could want in a fantasy novel.  Lost heirs, lost tribes, magic, epic battles against impossible odds… and zombies.  Yep, not only is there a great story, but it includes the undead.  How could you ask for more, really?

Unlike many reviews that say the book in question is “Tolkien-esque”, this book actually tempts me to count the number of obvious Tolkien influences.  Reading runes to open a stone door into a mountain?  Check.  Powerful council of wizards, and one has been corrupted?  Check.  I promise, these little reveals won’t wreck the story – they are right at the beginning of the book.

I enjoyed the book a lot – I have a fondness for dwarves, especially the beer-quaffing berserker kind.  Anyone who loves R.A. Salvatore’s dwarves will like these ones.  The writing is good, and the translation has been very well done.  There was only the occasional awkward bit where I suspect the translator struggled to get the meaning across, but considering that German tends to compress very complicated ideas into simple words (e.g. schadenfreude, to derive pleasure from other people’s misery), I can understand how that might be tricky.

On the whole, if you’re looking for classic fantasy, especially classic fantasy with zombies, I highly recommend this.  This is only the first book in a series, and you can believe I’ll be picking up the next one.


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The Winter Palace

The Winter Palace, by Eva Stachniak, is a little too much history, and not enough fiction.

She is good at bringing the reader into the life of the palace, with all the jockeying for position, backstabbing, and sex.  The plot, however, is missing.  I thought the premise for this book sounded interesting, and how could Catherine the Great, an illegitimate prince, and a coup be boring?

Read the book.  That’s how.

If this book was just supposed to be a sort of narrative history, it would be understandable why it is so dry.  But what is the point of making it historical fiction, if you’re not centering it on a story?  All the intrigue and plotting, murders and love affairs, and I had to force myself through it.  If you are looking for a kind of interesting perspective on life in the palace as it led up to Catherine’s ascension to the throne, go ahead and read.  But if you’re looking for an exciting story, this ain’t it.


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Kobo Touch Price Reduction

Attention to anyone who has been considering picking up an e-reader.  Chapters Indigo has just marked the Kobo Touch down to $99.

This is the e-reader I have been using myself since last June, and I have been very happy with it.  You can get it at that price both in-store and online, and I know they ship to Canada, the US, and quite a few other countries.  Wired magazine rated it their #1 editors’ pick over Kindle and the Nook, and it will accept any epub format book, as well as PDF.

I like using it with the public library.  I am the world’s worst at returning library books on time, and to me this is a miracle – no late fees possible!

Wanted to share the bargain with you – I paid $139 and thought it was a good deal.


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Ellen Reads ’50 Shades of Grey’ – YouTube

I was howling with laughter.  Especially the sound effects.

Ellen Reads ’50 Shades of Grey’ – YouTube.


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My (fictional) Hero

Do you have a favorite hero from a book?  One who you would like to meet, aspire to imitate, are inspired by?

And could you pick just one?

I started thinking about this because Chapters Indigo is having a contest (you can get there from their facebook page ) where you vote on your favorite fictional hero.  Some of the choices are understandable, like Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird, or Tyrion Lannister from A Game of Thrones.  How is Anne of Green Gables a hero?  I mean, I loved the books, but I wouldn’t exactly call her a hero.  Are we talking a hero just being the main character of the story, or are they actually supposed to have done something heroic?

I’m not sure who I would choose, if I had to choose only one.  Sparhawk, from the Elenium trilogy by David Eddings?  Sam Vimes, from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels? Maybe Tarma or Kethry from Mercedes Lackey’s Oathbound?  Yeah, probably Tarma.  She was like Xena, but kicked even more ass.  Or Sam Vimes.  Arg!  I can’t choose.  I just keep thinking of more awesome characters.

So what about you guys.  Who is your favorite fictional hero of all time?  Or heroes, if you’re indecisive like me.


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Zombies vs Unicorns

Do I actually need to finish writing this?  I mean honestly, the book is called Zombies vs. Unicorns.  Isn’t that enough?

Fine.  Be that way.

The world seems to be divided into two camps, those who are on Team Zombie, and those who are on Team Unicorn.  You can understand how there isn’t exactly a lot of overlap.  Now, small children are exempted from this, but once you’ve hit voting age, generally you’ve come down on one side or the other.

Unless unicorns are substantially less wussy than portrayed, I have to say I am firmly on the side of Team Zombie.   Generally, the stories are more interesting, although I have to say that there were some strange and cool imaginations at work in the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology.

The book itself is divided into authors who wrote unicorn-themed or zombie-themed stories, depending on which team they were on.  The stories are on the whole, great.  They’re also usually poking fun at the genres, which I love.  Actually, the dialogue between the two “team captains” (also, less importantly, editors) Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, debating the relative merits of zombies and unicorns, may have been the best part of the book.

In any case, if you are looking for a fun, silly read, look no further.   Also, I really want a t-shirt of the book art.

So, are you Team Zombie, or Team Unicorn?

Christie xo


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Censorship – Fifty Shades of Grey

I’ve always been against censorship.  Unless something is inciting hate or harm, I feel that it should be allowed to be viewed or read, and it isn’t anyone’s place to make judgements on someone else’s behalf.

I have run smack into my own principles with Fifty Shades of Grey, and the other two books in the trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, by E.L. James.  Erotic fiction evolved from Twilight fan-fiction (shudder) to an e-book/print-on-demand that was so overwhelmingly popular, the trilogy was picked up and published in hard copy, all three releasing over the last few weeks.

I have not read the book myself yet (I am borrowing it today to read).  What I know of it, from the book jacket, blurbs, and info from those who have already read it, is that it is erotica.  BDSM (bondage/domination/sadism/masochism) erotica, to be precise.   I don’t have any issues with erotica,  But erotic books are a strange, grey area.  They are not classified as pornography, so there is no requirement that purchasers be of a certain age. Fifty Shades of Grey has an emphasis on the domination side of things, from what I understand, and I am conflicted between my need to try to be non-judgemental and not censor books, and my need to not have teenagers buying books where people don’t take “no” for an answer, and the person saying “no” is okay with that.

The book being so popular also means that people (almost exclusively women) are coming in and buying it because they’ve heard the buzz, but have no idea about the contents.  Young teenage girls are coming in and looking for it because they’ve heard it’s connected to Twilight in some fashion. One girl came in to buy it, age perhaps seventeen or eighteen, accompanied by her dad.  Eep.  When her father was some distance away, I asked her if she was aware that the book was erotica, which led to her practically throwing the book to me, and fleeing the display.

I am currently limiting myself to asking if people purchasing it are aware that it is BDSM erotica, and stopping at that.  After they know what the book is, the decision is in their hands.  But what do I do if a twelve-year-old insists on buying it?  Arg.



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World’s Weirdest Book Titles

Well, at least a few of them.  Here are some of my votes for strangest book titles of all time.  Have any of your own?  Let me know!


A Pictorial Book of Tongue Coating – Anon

Dentalogia: A Poem on the Diseases of the Teeth and Their Proper Remedies – Solymyn Brown

Collect Fungi On Stamps – D.J. Aggersberg

The Romance of Rayon – Arnold Henry Hard

My Invisible Friend Explains The Bible – J.G. Bogusz

A Million Random Digits – Rand Corporation


I’m not making these up, I swear!


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Racism from some readers of The Hunger Games

I’d like to hear thoughts on the following article.  My main thought is, “Yes, yes you are racist.  Racist idiots.”


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Book Repurposing

Have a million books and no idea what to do with them (other than read them)?  Here are a few crazy ideas.  Anyone who can figure out how the book lamps are made, let me know – those are so awesome I might just try it.  For more like these, check out .



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